The Newcastle Jets are investigating the Gardens greyhound track at Birmingham Gardens as a new home base.
The future of the greyhound racing venue, once home to the Newcastle Breakers National Soccer League team and Super League’s Hunter Mariners, is up in the air after NSW Parliament voted last week to ban the dogs from July 1.
Newcastle Greyhounds leases the track from Greyhound Racing NSW, and the state government will likely resume ownership of the venue if looming Supreme Court action to reverse the ban is unsuccessful.
Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna, who is on tour with the team in China, confirmed he planned to meet with NSW government officials to discuss options for the Martin Lee-owned club’s future, and the dogs track could be on the agenda.
“It's entirely possible that the club will seek to develop its own facilities in the future,” a Jets spokesman said.
The Gardens venue would be an ideal home for a professional sporting club as it already has a grandstand, car park, change rooms and office space. It could house a shop and gym and give the club a more visible presence in the community.
The playing field and lighting would need upgrading and the race track removed, but much of the expensive infrastructure is in place.
It is highly unlikely the Jets would move A-League games away from Hunter Stadium, but the Gardens could be suitable as a training base and home ground for their youth team, FFA Cup and pre-season matches.
The Jets play National Youth League, pre-season and FFA Cup games at Broadmeadow Magic’s home ground, and they share their training grounds and clubhouse at Ray Watt Oval with the Newcastle University football club.
Newcastle Greyhounds chairman Brett Lazzarini said the Jets had enquired about leasing the Gardens about 18 months ago when they were owned by Nathan Tinkler.
Wallsend Football Club uses the playing field inside the greyhound track for First Division and Women’s Premier League games and runs popular five-a-side competitions at the stadium during summer.
The Red Devils have applied to be part of NNSWF’s revamped NPL competition in their 130th anniversary year next season.
A Wallsend representative said the club provided football for 1300 players throughout the year and had a contract in place to lease the ground in 2017.
The low grandstand on the north-east side of the Birmingham Gardens field has been demolished since the Breakers played there in the 1990s and the Mariners played in the Super League in 1997.
The venue also hosted former state league club Newcastle Austral, the precursor to the Breakers.
The complex was known as Breakers Stadium and Topper Stadium in the ‘90s.
The main grandstand seats about 1100 spectators and includes a row of corporate boxes. The complex also houses a restaurant.